I’m still putting together stories from the various experiences I had at this past years Ragnar Relay here on Cape Cod. There are many things left unspoken, especially those moments in the van at 3am… But, that’s another story; or not! One thing is for certain, this story is one I am excited to share. I recently had a lil e-mail talk with Peter Nussbaum, one of the founders/ owners of Tamerlaine Animal Sanctuary
Usually I’d give an intro about the person I’m interviewing, but that’s where all the questions come in. Although I did meet Peter at the race, our encounter was brief. We met at one of the stops in the relay. Anyone who has done a Ragnar knows some of these stops are “in and out” types of stops. But, having seen the shirts the team was wearing, over and over and over again, I had to ask. First, I asked where I could get one, but was told it’s secret squirrel shit so… But, Peter did mentioned some of the other team was “over there” (and he pointed) so I went to chat with them as well. Anyway, onto why you came here…
OUI: We met briefly at Ragnar Cape Cod, but the presence of the team you were on, Strong Hearts Vegan Power caused quite a stir. I saw tons of you wearing those well designed shirts. I knew I had to learn more, so I introduced myself to you and you pointed me toward some of others who I’ve continues to stay in contact with as well. Tell me, what was the team all about? How did it form, etc.?
PN: The team originally formed a few years ago. It was the brain child of Joel Capolongo, owner of Strong Hearts, an amazing vegan restaurant in Syracuse, NY. Joel put together a team of vegan runners – many Syracuse based. I got involved through Scott Spitz, an amazing elite level vegan marathoner who I followed online.
OUI: Was this your first Ragnar? Do you run other events like this style?
PN: My first Ragnar was Adirondacks 2013. I have run approximately 50 marathons – but no relay style races other than the three that I ran with Strong Hearts Vegan Power
OUI: When did you go vegan? Why?
PN: I went vegan 8 years ago. I was sick and fed up with eating meat. At first it was largely a health based decision that quickly turned into a purely ethical based decision. I always loved animals but was able to disconnect and live in denial. Once I made the switch, my eyes quickly opened up to what I had repressed for so long. At this point, health as absolutely nothing to do with my decision.
OUI: How do you think being a vegan helps you in your running and other exercise? A lot of folks, myself included, find recovery to be quicker and easier. Do you agree with that? What does your recovery drink/ meal look like?
PN: Again, for me it is not about “plant-based” being the miracle running or exercise fix. That is a nice bonus. I used to be much more serious about racing. Qualifying for Boston was an ever present goal for me. I trained very hard all the time. I still run just about every day and running is a very important part of my life. My days of chasing PRs are a bit behind me and I am totally cool with that. Once in a while I surprise myself and have a great PR caliber race, but it is more about getting out there and enjoying the incredible feeling that I get from running. A vegan diet works great for me and I think it helps my recovery in a big way. I like Vega mango tango protein shakes after a run – with rice milk, banana and berries.
PN: Tamerlaine was founded by my wife and I two years ago. We started by adopting two roosters from another amazing Sanctuary (Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary). We fell in love with those two boys and realized this was something we had to do. 100 some odd animals later, it has become the most important thing in our lives and is by far the best thing I have ever been involved with. I see on a daily basis how each and everyone of our farm animals are beautiful, individual beings with distinct personalities. Caring for them and opening the eyes of others to the plight of factory farmed animals is more important to me than anything else I have ever done. My wife is an amazing vegan chef and she produces a line of artisanal food products – hot sauces, pickles, pestos, hummus and dips. 100% of the proceeds go towards the Sanctuary.
OUI: What can us mere mortal do to help at Tamerlaine? Are there opportunities to come and do some volunteer work? What is the greatest need and how can we make an impact?
PN: Volunteers and visitors are very welcome at our Sanctuary. We have three full time animal care givers (in addition to my wife and I). On the weekends we generally have additional volunteers and visitors coming through. We are always in need of financial support. Donations can be made via our website. http://www.tamerlainefarm.com We also sell a line of great merchandise and the killer food products – again, all proceeds go towards caring for the animals and operating the Sanctuary.
OUI: How often do you run? Do you prefer shorter distances or longer?
PN: I typically run 6 days a week. 5 – 8 miles per day. Sometimes considerably longer.
OUI: What is the biggest question you get from people on your veganism and physical activity?
PN: At this point, people really don’t question it. People I know seem to widely accept that a vegan diet works for running.
OUI: Because it’s current, what are your thoughts on Cecil the Lion?
PN: I’m reading all sorts of stuff from activists. Whether it’s ending trophy farming, deflecting the attention to treating all animals equally, etc. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I am thrilled that non-vegans are opening their eyes and hope that Cecil’s horrible death will result in some realizing that the billions of animals used for meat, eggs, dairy, leather, etc., are just as worthy of love, compassion and outrage. On the other hand, the hypocrisy is disturbing. We live in a violent world – hopefully this is at least a small turning point moment.
OUI: Your thoughts on Meatless Monday, valuable as a first start or marketing gimmick?
PN: A little of both – but I support any effort (gimmick or otherwise) that promotes meatless anything.
OUI: Peter, thank you for the opportunity. I’m hoping at some point to get out there to Tamerlaine with my family, I’ve talked you guys up quite a bit to them and they are really interested.
If after reading this you are also interested, here’s a bit more info: